Cloud elasticity is one of the most important features of cloud computing, and a major selling point for organizations to migrate from their on-premises infrastructure. But what is cloud elasticity exactly, and what are the benefits of cloud elasticity? Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about elasticity in cloud computing.

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Table of Contents

What is Cloud Elasticity?

Cloud elasticity is the ability to rapidly and dynamically allocate cloud resources, including compute, storage, and memory resources, in response to changing demands.

The goal of cloud elasticity is to avoid either overprovisioning or underprovisioning a particular service or application. Overprovisioning (i.e. allocating too many resources) results in higher expenditures than necessary, while underprovisioning (allocating too few resources) means that not all users will be able to access the service.

Cloud Elasticity vs. Cloud Scalability

Although they’re often mentioned in the same breath and even used synonymously, cloud elasticity and cloud scalability aren’t quite the same thing. Both cloud elasticity and cloud scalability are part of a larger concern about system adaptability, i.e. the ability of a system to adapt to a changing environment. So what’s the difference between cloud elasticity and cloud scalability?

Cloud scalability refers to the ability of a system to remain operational and responsive in response to growth and gradual changes in user demand over time. As such, scalability tends to be a strategic action that increases or decreases resource consumption on an as-needed basis. Cloud scalability is useful for infrastructure or applications that undergo regular or predictable changes in demand—for example, a costume website receiving most of its traffic in October before Halloween. 

Cloud elasticity, on the other hand, refers to the ability of a system to remain operational and responsive during rapid and/or unexpected spikes in user demand. Elasticity is a tactical action that ensures uninterrupted access, even during usage peaks. Cloud elasticity is a necessity for any infrastructure or applications that may experience sudden bursts in popularity—for example, websites for auctions or concert tickets that have large amounts of traffic in a very short period of time. 

Cloud Elasticity Use Cases

Cloud elasticity is helpful in a wide variety of use cases. For example:

  • E-commerce websites may have events such as sales, promotions, and the release of special items that attract a much larger number of customers than usual. Cloud elasticity helps these websites allocate resources appropriately during times of high demand so that customers can still check out their purchases.
  • Streaming services need to appropriately handle events such as the release of a popular new album or TV series. Netflix, for example, claims that it can add “thousands of virtual servers and petabytes of storage within minutes,” so that users can keep enjoying their favorite entertainment no matter how many other people are watching.

The Benefits of Cloud Elasticity

The benefits of cloud elasticity include:

  • Flexibility: Cloud elasticity represents a radical departure from the days of on-premises computing, in which organizations had to plan for unexpected demand spikes in advance by purchasing more resources than they would usually need. Businesses that take advantage of cloud elasticity don’t have to worry about the “Slashdot effect,” in which their website is suddenly unavailable during a traffic surge.
  • “Pay as you go” cost model: One of the major drawbacks of on-premises computing is that you pay the same amount for your hardware and software, no matter how much you use it. Cloud elasticity enables a “pay as you go” cost model, in which you’re only charged for the resources that you actually consume. For example, Amazon claims that customers who use the AWS Instance Scheduler with Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) can realize savings of up to 70 percent. 
  • Fault tolerance and high availability: Cloud elasticity makes it easier for organizations to enjoy fault tolerance and high availability for their infrastructure and applications. For example, servers that are on the verge of failing can be automatically cloned before they go down, helping to minimize downtime as much as possible.

For a more detailed look at the advantages and disadvantages of cloud elasticity, check out our article “The Pros and Cons of Cloud Elasticity.”

Conclusion

Cloud elasticity is a highly desirable feature to have for your IT infrastructure: it helps you stay operational during peaks in demand, improves your flexibility and availability, and uses a “pay as you go” model that’s friendlier to your IT budget. That’s why we’ve made elasticity one of the core features of IronWorker, a hosted solution for background job processing.

You can use IronWorker for on-demand elastic processing without having to worry about provisioning, managing, or scaling cloud resources yourself. What’s more, IronWorker offers you a variety of flexible deployment options: in the public cloud, on-premises, on a dedicated server, or using a hybrid model that combines the cloud and on-premises. The world’s top websites like HotelTonight, Bleacher Report, and Untapped are all well familiar with the need for cloud scalability—which is why they all rely on IronWorker. 

Ready to start enjoying the benefits of cloud elasticity with IronWorker? Get in touch with our team today for a chat about your needs and objectives, and to start your free trial of the IronWorker platform.

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